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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Law School Applications / Re: Chances?
« on: September 04, 2012, 11:47:10 AM »
Check out the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, also available at LSAC. It provides admissions grids, and gives you a great idea as to your chances. From what I remember 156 would be low for UW, you'd probably more like 160-165 to be safe. Your numbers place you in quasi-splitter territory, which makes your chances tougher to handicap.

Some people with numbers like yours will probably get admitted to UW, the question is what else did they bring to the table? My guess is they're probably non-trad students, URM, etc. Law school admissions really is a numbers game, regardless of what admissions officers tell you. You have some good international experience, but those kinds of soft factors will only be taken into account if you're a bordeline case. UW's median is 163, and the 25% (bottom quarter) is 158. In other words, you'd be below the 25th percentile, hoping that soft factors will pull you up. It's possible, but I think you've got an uphill battle.

Did you apply to any backups? If you want to stay in the area check out Marquette, St. Thomas, and maybe a couple of Chicago schools. Another option is to focus on obtaining a scholarship to  a lower ranked school like William Mitchell, Valparaiso, Detroit-Mercy, etc. In the end, that may be your best option.

BTW, Galway is one of my favorite cities in the world. I used to spend a lot of time in Clifden, about 20 miles away, and went to Galway all the time. Last time I was there we caught a free Radiohead concert on the square, brilliant!

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Charleston School of Law
« on: September 02, 2012, 12:58:39 PM »
Can you elaborate on how likely scholarships are and the process to obtain them. It seems that money hungry law schools who have the power to turn down many students each year wouldn't be so keen on dolling out free money. Anything would help with their $17,500/semester cost.

Glad I can be of some (limited) help. I can't tell you anything specific about obtaining a scholarship at Charleston, because I don't have any experience with the school. I can tell you that generally speaking if you have a GPA/LSAT profile that is significantly higher than the school's median, you have a good shot at scholarship money. The amount of money awarded, requirements to keep the scholarship, and numbers needed to obtain the scholarship will vary according to the school.

Believe it or not, law schools are willing to give away lots of money in order to attract highly qualified students. Law school admissions is a numbers game and GPA/LSAT dominate the process. Law schools want students with high numbers because they get to report those numbers to LSAC and US News and World Report, which increases their rank. Also, those students are more likely to pass the bar, which increases the school's rank/reputation. You'd be amazed at how much money people with high LSAT scores get thrown their way.

Although law school admissions is competitive, as you said, most schools admit students within a relatively narrow band. Look at the 25% - 75% numbers on LSAC (the bottom and top quarters of enrolled students). Often, they're only a few points apart. Charleston's medians for the full time program are 3.2/152, and something like 2.8/149 for part time (my numbers are not precise, I'm going off of memory). That means that Charleston probably gets very few applicants with, say, 165+ LSAT scores. Of the few they do get, most probably apply to Charleston as a back up and will turn down a scholarship offer in order to attend UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, etc. I think that a school like Charleston would therefore have a lot of incentive to try to retain an applicant with those kind of numbers. 

As I said before, I don't know anything about Charleston and I certainly can't tell you what specific LSAT score would get you a scholarship. However, based on what I've experienced personally and based on what other people have posted here and elsewhere, an LSAT score that is 10-15 points higher than a school's median is probably going to put you in a good position to obtain money. I had an LSAT score roughly ten points above my school's median and I received a 75% scholarship. The stipulations in order to retain the scholarship, however, were brutal (top 15%!).

Focus on high grades, then focus on the LSAT, don't obsess over nonsense rankings schemes, and you'll be alright. You can get a good legal education at any ABA law school, but you really should try to minimize the debt. As an aside, I spoke with a friend of mine just a couple of days ago. He graduated from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, and was telling me that every time he writes out that huge check to pay back his loan he wishes he had accepted a full scholarship offer at a smaller school instead. He thought he wanted Biglaw, and was willing to pay a premium to get there. After a couple of years he burned out (as is common) and now works at a job he really likes, but which does not require an elite degree.

Good Luck, let us know what happens!

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Charleston School of Law
« on: August 31, 2012, 12:01:44 PM »
I think you have a good, workable plan. You're considering the right criteria (geography, future goals) and you seem to be very realistic about the legal market and the implications of attending a T4. That, combined with your work experience, vaults you well ahead of most law students.

If I could offer any advice, it would be this: do everything you can to minimize your costs. Since you will likely be going solo, and you want to have a family, minimal debt should be a primary goal. Here are two things to consider:

1) Get your B.A. at a cheap public school. I don't know the Charleston area at all, but if there is a state university nearby take advantage of wthe cheap tuition. When it comes to law school admissions, they really don't care where you went to undergrad. Try to get the highest possible GPA. Even though it's not required for admission to Charleston Law, it will help you get scholarship $$$.

2) Consider a cheaper public law school, like University of South Carolina. I don't know if that's an option due to it's distance from Charleston, but it's something to think about. Alternatively, start focusing on the LSAT now, and get the highest possible score. A high GPA/LSAT will likely get you a scholarship to Charleston. I don't remember Charleston's admissions profile, but I bet if you could score in the mid-160s you'd be in great shape. You have the time to do it, and you can start now.

As an aside, I'd probably drop the paralegal program and focus on getting a B.A. as quickly as possible. It's just my opinion, but if you want to be a lawyer focus your time and money on getting to law school.

Good Luck with everything!

General Off-Topic Board / Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 29, 2012, 04:11:33 PM »
I've considered teaching law, but it's incredibly competitive and mostly reserved for those with better educational credentials than I have..  There are far less law schools than there are undergrad institutions.

I've run into the same issue. I'd love to teach law, and I think I'd be good at it, but my J.D. is not from an elite institution. I have a couple of friends who graduated from the same law school that I did, and they've been able to pick up adjunct/clinical classes. Full time, tenure track positions, however, are another story. Even at many T4s it's not unusual to find Harvard/Yale/Columbia grads with federal clerkship experience. I've met a few full time profs who went to places like UCLA, Texas, and Washington, but they all had some other unique experience that made them marketable.

The vast majority of law students would be better served by law schools' hiring great teachers rather than great academicians. It's yet another example of the obvious disconnect between the academy's notion of legal education as a purely intellectual pursuit, and the reality of forging a career in law, which most grads will be confronted with. 

General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: 2-3 years before 1L
« on: August 28, 2012, 07:07:27 PM »
Highly suspicious, but what the hell.

Assuming that you are who you say you are, an employee of a Tier 1 university, and that your university has some sort of admissions agreement for employees, it seems highly unlikely that the offer is totally unqualified. Are you saying that if you had a 2.0 GPA and 140 LSAT you'd still get in because you're an employee? What university are we talking about?

I'd re-read that policy carefully before blowing off the LSAT.

Definitely. When you're new and have no reputation, other attorneys are hesitant to send referrals your way. Often, the only clients brand new attorneys get are the ones nobody else will take. Sometimes that's because their case is a loser, sometimes it's because they have no ability to pay. Imagine trying to get your fee from a client who's house is underwater, who is in arrears on child support, or who is contemplating bankruptcy. It can be done, but it's an  art that requires experience.

I have a friend who worked at a small family law office for all four years during law school (part time program). She was the office manager/accountant/law clerk/filing clerk/client intake interviewer/collection agent, and anything else you can imagine. She was at the local family court every day filing papers and getting to know the system. She did this full time for four years, and felt competent to hang out her shingle after law school. I think you'd almost have to have that kind of experience to stand a fighting chance.

General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Transfers and Drop Outs
« on: August 28, 2012, 11:14:19 AM »
I don't know what school you're at, so it's impossible to say. Generally, though, the number of students who transfer out is small. I'd bet that academic attrition/voluntary dropouts outweigh transfers.

Most (if not all) law schools offer practical skills, courses, trial advocacy, etc. My law school offered a few courses that were designed for small firm/solo litigators. That's not really the point, though.

The tough part of starting a solo practice straight out of law school is not managing the office, it's finding clients, getting paid by clients who are often broke themselves, and learning how to navigate the court system. The people I've known who successfully started solo practices had several years of hands-on experience working in small offices. The typical law school class is only 30-45 hours per semester, not nearly enough to prepare the average student.

Law School Applications / Re: CHANCE ME
« on: August 24, 2012, 02:01:12 PM »
You have a decent shot at Mid-Atlantic School of Law.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 23, 2012, 03:41:11 PM »
A decision like this volves so many aspects of your life that it's difficult to offer any advice. My father is a college professor, and several of my close friends are full time tenured professors. Here are a few things I'd consider, however.

Employment prospects
Full time college teaching positions are very, very competitive to obtain. I'd say the market is even tighter than the legal market. My dad teaches at a non-prestigious state university. When positions open up, which is rarely, his department has the luxury of choosing from several hundred applicants. The people who get hired, even at his state commuter school, invariably have Ph.Ds from places like Columbia, Berkeley, etc., and are well published. One of my good friends got his Ph.D from UCLA and spent years teaching part time community college courses before landing a full time gig.

Like law school, your employability is tied to your pedigree, but it's worse. You can't be a solo practitioner college professor, and even small colleges can be very picky about hiring.

Do you like research and scholarly publications?
The Ph.D will not be enough. You'll need to publish like crazy in order to build up a reputation so that you can get hired. Many people like teaching but aren't thrilled with the peer review/publishing aspect.

Are you willing to live just about anywhere?
If so, you may have a better chance at employment. A small college in west Virginia  will be less competitive than, say, NYU, but it will still be far more competitive than most people expect.

My views on Ph.D programs differ somewhat from my views on JD programs. Based on what I've seen, a Ph.D from a so-so university is probably not worth it. The field is simply too competitive.

The good news is that it's quite common to get substantial or full scholarships for a Ph.D. If they accept you, they'll probably offer you money.

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